By Sallie James
    Recently submitted plans for a waterside restaurant on the old Wildflower property don’t include any dock space, raising concerns that boaters who patronize the proposed eatery will take up dock space at nearby Silver Palm Park.
    The Hillstone Restaurant Group Inc. has asked to build a Houston’s restaurant on the northeast corner of Palmetto Park Road and Northeast Fifth Avenue and lease the land from the city.
    Silver Palm Park is on the southeast corner of Palmetto Park Road and Northeast Fifth Avenue. The passive park is equipped with a boat ramp and caters largely to boaters, anglers and pedestrians.
    “The plans are currently being reviewed by staff,” Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie said. “The current plan that was submitted does not show docks. When the council approved it there was some discussion that the city could perhaps partner with (Hillstone) in the permitting and construction of a dock facility.”
    Issues concerning motor vehicle traffic, parking and dock space have plagued the project from inception.
    Haynie said the missing dock space on the plans was a bit of a surprise.
    “The City Council was very firm when we took the development to staff that that was the feature the restaurant would provide,” Haynie said. “The boat ramp/dockage and boat ramp parking (at Silver Palm Park) is off limits for Houston’s patrons.”
    Hillstone is asking to build a $5 million, 7,000-square-foot restaurant on the Wildflower property, with 3,500-square-feet earmarked for indoor customer service and 800 square feet of outdoor seating. The eatery would have 128 parking spaces.
    Under the proposal, Hillstone would lease the property from the city for $500,000 a year for 20 years with five, five-year optional extensions. The restaurant would be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. A key attraction is the waterfront location and its accessibility by boat.
    City activist Arleen Owens predicted dock space would become a problem and expressed concern and dismay that the current restaurant plans show none.
    “I said (before), if two 40-footers come and they want to have lunch, they are going to tie up over there at Silver Palm Park and walk under the bridge,” Owens said. “If you say there’s a place that’s accessible by water, it needs to have its own dockage.
    “The boat traffic problem and the boat parking problem are just as big a problem as that of the cars,” Owens said.
    “I feel very strongly that dock facilities must be included as part of Houston’s,” Haynie said.
    City Council member Scott Singer said he needed to see the whole proposal before he could decide if the lack of dock space was a “make or break” situation. He said there may be concerns about cost, the impact of the view and the ease by which restaurant-goers could dock.
    Singer said the plans are currently being reviewed by city staff.
    “I’m not jumping ahead that they didn’t produce that,” Singer said. “I am willing to review the proposal and we will see how the total package sums up.”

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